The Supreme Court on Tuesday expressed concern over the tendency among law graduates preferring corporate jobs to judicial services, as thousands of judges’ posts remain vacant in subordinate courts.
During the hearing of a PIL seeking implementation of the court’s 2002 order to fill all the vacancies in subordinate courts and increase the judge-population ratio from the present 10.5 judges per 10 lakh population to 50 judges per 10 lakh population, a bench of Chief Justice K.G. Balakrishnan and Justice R.V. Raveendran said the situation was so bad that over 3,000 judges’ posts in the lower judiciary were lying vacant for years.
“People (law graduates) are not coming forward to become judges and even those who are appearing in the examinations are unable to meet the required standard,” the bench said.
The PIL filed by an NGO, Janhit Manch and three others, wanted the court to direct the Centre to take steps for the appointment of more judges in subordinate courts in a time-bound manner for clearing the backlog of about three crore cases.
Initially the court showed reluctance to entertain the PIL but agreed to issue notice to the Centre after petitioners’ counsel Prashant Bhushan drew its attention to various Law Commission’s reports on arrears and delay and the court’s orders on filling up the vacancies in subordinate courts, which were yet to be implemented.
He said despite the court’s direction, the government had failed to provide proper infrastructure in place for efficient functioning of the judicial system.
Blaming it on the lack of political will and poor resource allocation to the judiciary, the petitioners urged the court to as many ad hoc judges as necessary to clear the backlog of cases and setting up of an effective mechanism for prioritisation and tracking of cases requiring urgent attention.
“There are inordinate delays in the dispensation of justice in this country today and these delays deny litigants of their fundamental right to justice,” the petitioners said and suggested that alternative dispute resolution mechanism like plea bargaining and pre-litigation counselling should be used.